How dogs diets have changed and why 

This week, we’re talking all about the changing landscape of pets diets, and in particular dogs.

Over recent years, there has been a huge shift in people wanting to take more control over their pets diets. Grain free, Raw, Home cooked meals, Vegan – yes even Vegan.

Think about it. Can you imagine saying to someone 10 years ago that your dog  follows a grain free or plant based diet? That person would have looked at you gone out.  Yet today one of the most loved commercial brands (and the only one I trust for Willow) is Lily’s Kitchen. A brand who’s  origins came from a dog owner home cooking for there beloved pooch due to their skin issues. Now we all seem to be demanding more for our furry friends.

So what is it driving this change?

Well, let us think about the evolution of Humans for a minute. We started as cave people. Eating what we could find, meat, fish, fruit and veggies. Fast forward to the 1960’s and convenience kicked in.  We started canning fruit and vegetable so that we could enjoy them all year round – makes total sense.

Then came the 1980’s where processed food really took off. Low fat versions of more natural foods (think butter v margarine) came out with ingredient lists as long as your arm. We replaced full meals with shakes and put all our trust in ready meals – after all they told us they were “balanced for us”, “good for us”, “calorie controlled” why wouldn’t we trust them?

 Today we are in a place that, whether you are all about Paleo, plant  based, healthy fats, or low refined carbs, our newer ways of eating have one thing in common . They are all bringing us back to that cave people philosophy by favoring natural over processed.

Is it the same story for our dogs? 

Wild dogs ate raw meat, fish, berries, plants etc. Fast forward to today and now we have shelves full of very similarly packaged packs of uniformed sized kibble or tins of mush.

The interesting thing is that this processed dog food makes up for pretty much all the dog food choice out there in our supermarkets. I mean, that is the equivalent of having a Tesco full of just ready meals and meal replacement shakes. Is it a case that we are simply behind the human food evolution when it comes to dog food? I certainly think so. So much so that in a further 10 year time I see supermarkets with dog food available in the frozen and fresh aisles also – something that’s  already happening in other countries

Yet feeding your dog your way seems really daunting right? 

 There is so much science used when it comes to developing dog food.  A blend of ingredients and supplements all formulated for optimum health meaning it can be daunting to try and find your own way. After all,  our dogs can’t tell us how they are feeling.

Obviously Willows health and wellness is of upmost importance to me, but I do believe we a re sometimes guilty of over thinking it. Do we have a full scientific breakdown of all meals we consume? No, so why do we feel we need this to make decision for our dogs.

When I started considering moving away from commercial dog food, I researched a lot. I also spoke to my vet too, although don’t forget most vet practices are funded by pharmaceutical businesses and therefore can be biased when it comes to advice. 

For me, I chose to home cook meals for Willow over a raw diet due to personal preference.  The principals, however, are the same in terms of using real food,  including high quality meat. I discussed with my vet the foods I would be using and how I would measure I had the right  balance.  Its also important to add that Willow may have a home cooked food nearly every evening, but she also has Lily’s kitchen kibble for breakfast as I knew my limits when it came to time.

Willow is also part of the pet plan offered by our vets so has regular check ups to ensure she is healthy. I can therefore use this as a check in, as well as watching her weight, energy levels and poops.

Here’s some really useful guides I found when starting out on home cooking, I also have quite a few recipes now built up all on our recipe page:

How to ensure they get the right balance

A great recipe book for when starting out

The importance of calcium

 Next week, I’ll be sharing the six main personal benefits I choose to home cook for Willow